Captaincy tussle played out in opener's calm return to form and Hussain's show of nerves

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The Independent Online

It was fascinating to watch Michael Vaughan play a similar innings to Herschelle Gibbs's on the first day. Like Gibbs, Vaughan has not been having a particularly fruitful summer although he was obviously finding some of his form by the time the one-day matches ended. Nonetheless, he will have badly wanted a good score in this, the first meaningful Test Match of the summer.

He and Nasser Hussain are not going to be allowed to forget they are rivals for the England captaincy on next winter's tours. Neither of them would be human if part of their minds were not involved in trying to settle this issue. Their respective innings now, were as different as their respective ways of captaining a side.

Hussain only faced seven balls, but he looked his usual highly-strung self. It was clear that he was nervous from the way in which he fretted around in his short stay at the crease as he prodded the pitch and generally fidgeted about. Then there was the error of judgement when he got himself out playing no stroke at one that Shaun Pollock brought back into him. Hawkeye told one story; the human eye another and my support went to the latter.

Vaughan, on the other hand, looked as calmly in control as he always does. He had a torrid time, especially against Pollock who bowled a brilliant first spell of the day, and the way in which he rode it out was splendid. For the first 75 minutes he remained at the City end coping first with Pollock and then with Makhaya Ntini, who also bowled well.

There was never the slightest attempt to obey Geoffrey Boycott's advice about the best way to play dangerous fast bowling, which is from the other end. He allowed Marcus Trescothick with his cracked right index finger, to attend to the rather more friendly offerings of Charl Willoughby and Dewald Pretorius at the Pavilion end.

Vaughan played and missed a time or two and once he edged Ntini between second and third slip. Gibbs, diving left from third slip, got a couple of fingers to it but could not hold on. Still Vaughan ploughed on, not only wearing the bowlers down, but also waiting until his own form returned, which it did as the lunch interval approached.

First, those lovely flowing drives began to find the gaps in the covers. A single, tentative over of left-arm spin from Robin Pietersen just before lunch brought him 14 runs. Then, as the afternoon unwound he began to get his famous pull working. There was one devastating stroke against Ntini that sent the ball far over mid-wicket for six and it had not been all that short. It was an innings that did the heart good.

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